I am writing in support of the expansion of Medicaid to low-income women and families. As the director of program services for the Maine State Chapter March of Dimes, I believe passionately in its mission of promoting the health of all women and their babies.

Gov. Paul LePage and the Legislature can help ensure a healthy outcome for every pregnancy by accepting these federal funds to provide access to health care for Maine’s uninsured.

In Maine, the need is great. During the years 2009-2011, an average of almost 12 percent of women of childbearing age were uninsured in Maine. These high uninsured rates mean we miss critical opportunities to improve these women’s health before they become pregnant. Problems such as high blood pressure and tobacco use can have serious impact on pregnancy if they aren’t addressed beforehand. If women can have regular Medicaid coverage before and between pregnancies, they are much more likely to have healthy pregnancies and babies.

Medicaid expansion presents a major opportunity to improve maternal and child health across our state and to reduce problems such as preterm birth, birth defects and infant mortality.

Our leaders should step up to the plate and seize this chance to ensure that all Maine babies have a healthy start in life. And if caring about mothers and babies is not enough for action, then the focus on the fact that Medicaid expansion is a smart financial investment for Maine should be enough to convince our leaders to vote yes.

Sally Hennessey

Scarborough

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